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Health Centre

Controlling Anger

Why do alcoholics get so angry?

  • Alcoholics have many unsatisfactory experiences in life. During the initial stages of abstinence, you may come across situations that make you frustrated and resentful. You have accumulated so much anger that it only requires the slightest provocation to set you off.

  • The second reason is that you have found that anger works and that you are conditioned to continue its use. Thus, for you anger becomes a pattern of behaviour.

Anger is expressed by acts of violence - verbal or physical. Or it keeps simmering below the surface. It burns as a silent resentment. Sarcasm and abrasive humour are also expressions of this bitterness. It corrodes you until nothing is left but a raw-edged hole. Sometimes, suicide might seem as the only way out.

The Attitudes Anger Helps Create

Feelings Expressions
Disappointment “I’m heart broken.” “It’s all so upsetting…”
Depression “I feel like killing myself.” “Wish I were dead.”
Silent Resentment No obvious reactions
Sarcasm “How smart of you” (meaning quite the opposite)
Self Pity “Why me?” “Only I suffer so much…”

Unfortunately anger not only affects people around you, but also manifests physically in you.

Physical Signs Behavioural Signs
Headache Verbal Abuse
Stiffness Violence
Lack of Appetite Unnecessary Arguments
Sleep Disorder Isolation from Society
Always Tense Brooding, Relapse


What can you do about anger?

There are no simple solutions to the problem of anger, no set formula that deals with this complex issue. However, there are a few steps which, when followed, may lead to a reasonable solution. They are as follows:

  • Recognise that you are angry. The anger, of which we are aware, is much less harmful than unrecognised anger. Try to find out what exactly has made you angry. Are you angry about something or are you afraid of something. Your anger may not be reasonable but that does not mean it does not exist.

  • Identify the source of your anger. You may be upset with your boss at work. But since you are unable to express your feelings to him, you may show that frustration on your family. Misplaced anger isolates you from meaningful relationships.

  • Determine whether your anger is realistic or not. Is the cause for your anger justified? Will your anger solve the problem?.

  • Cope with anger. If you keep accumulating anger, you are building up pressure within yourself like a pressure cooker. You need safety valves, else the situation is going to get out of control. Try these to cope with anger.

    • Use relaxation techniques to cool off. Anger produces a lot of energy. Physical activity is a healthy outlet for getting rid of anger. A brisk walk in the open could help.

    • Improve communication with the family. It helps better understanding of the problem. When anger interferes with communication, the focus shifts from the real problem.

  • Tackle the cause of anger. You can approach the person responsible for the hurt or anger and explain how you feel You can remember the following points when you have your say:
    • Talk directly to the person concerned. Direct eye contact is a must. Talk when the person is alone.

    • Make your complaint as early as possible.

    • Don’t exaggerate or understate the problem. Be descriptive, not judgmental.

    • Don’t compare your situation with others.

    • Avoid using words like ‘always’ and ‘never’. Your chance of being taken seriously will be reduced.

    • Do not repeat the point once the person has understood it.

    • Don’t sound apologetic. Do not use a preface to justify your stand.

    • Complement the person for what he has done creditably. This will enable you to remain open about your criticism. Appreciation and criticism should be in the proportion 2:1.

  • Receive a complaint or grievance with equanimity
    • Make eye contact when you are being criticised.

    • Listen carefully without interrupting. Listen. Listen and Listen, before you start speaking.

    • Do not find fault with the person criticising you.

    • Do not rationalise or use clever arguments to cover up your mistake.

    • Communicate to the other person that you have got his point.

Anger is a strong impediment to recovery. Proper recognition, understanding and channelising of this emotion can change the entire way of life, making it more productive, comfortable and balanced.

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